Source: LifeLine Ohio
By Joseph Gbonoi
On April 7, 2003, just a few days after getting married, I was in a car accident in Columbus. I was sitting at a red light when a huge truck ran through the traffic light and crashed into five different cars, including mine.
I was sent home from the emergency room with pain pills and thought I would be okay. Even after physical therapy and treatment for my injuries, I still felt weak and by October I was admitted to the hospital where learned I was in acute liver failure.
I had Hepatitis B since childhood, but never required major treatment. Unfortunately, the medicine I was taking to manage my pain from the car accident sped up the deterioration of my liver. I was sicker than I ever had been in my life.
My health began declining rapidly; I was retaining so much fluid that I couldn’t wear normal shoes or clothes. In February 2004 I was placed on the national transplant waiting list for a liver transplant and was so sick I had to wait in the hospital. In the following weeks I was in extreme pain, so much pain that I could barely sit or sleep. The pain would last for hours and became increasingly worse each day. I didn’t know it at the time, but in early February doctors told my wife, Korlu, that I had less than a week to live if I didn’t receive a transplant.
On February 23, 2004, I was still in the hospital. My father had come to visit me and was telling me the story of someone he knew that received a transplant. He said to me, “my friend had a dream that it was time for his transplant…” and before he even finished his sentence, my transplant coordinator came in to say there was a liver for me – MY dream had come true.
I was absolutely shocked that I was fortunate enough to receive this amazing gift, a liver, and the ability to continue living my life. After my transplant, I had so much energy, I felt like I could do anything! I was able to take over the duties that Korlu had to handle while I was sick and use my creativity to make a living as a photographer and web designer.
When I communicated with, and later met, my donor family, the Price family, I learned that my donor, Paul, was just 21 years old when he died. I am so thankful for the gift Paul gave me, but at the same time I am sad for his family’s loss. They are such wonderful, supportive people and have welcomed me into their family. I felt like I didn’t know how to express my appreciation for what Paul and his family had done for me.
In 2008, my wife and I learned we were expecting our first child, a child that wouldn’t have been possible without my donor. When I became sick, we were told we may not be able to have children, so we consider our baby a true blessing
We decided to name our son Paul Geoffrey, in honor of my hero, my donor. It’s a small way I can show appreciation and a way we can always remember Paul Geoffrey Price.
It is hard to find the words to show my appreciation for the kindness I’ve been shown. As a Liberian refugee, I came to the U.S. in 1998 and was touched by the opportunities given to me by this country and the people in it. I am so thankful that I am here today, sharing my story and living my life to the fullest.
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